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2 + 2 = A New You

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 23, 2018

Recreational level adult basketball players don’t practice (much). Those that do, get better. Those that don’t, well, they complain that they don’t have the time. I’m here to say they (you) do.

You walk onto a court, right? It’s before everyone gets there (“how many we got? Seven”) or between games or after. It’s like 4 minutes. Those 4 minutes are always there, but what do players do? They jack up shots, sometimes the first shot when they walk on the court is a three pointer. It’s like they are saying, “just checking it out to see if it’s my day”. How about warming up? How about doing something that we call “Foundational Shooting” or “Foundational Ballhandling”? Usain Bolt doesn’t just get out there, he warms up, does high knee paces, various movements that mimic and prepare him for what he is about to do (set a world record in the 100m or 200m). Tennis players engage in mini-tennis, hitting from the service line to get their strokes warmed up. Basketball players, pro players do the same. I have seen Kyle Korver shadow shoot (NO BALL) at the half court line for 5 minutes before he even takes a shot. Do some stationary dribbling (2 minutes): righty, lefty, in/out, high/low, forward/back. Do some dribble crossovers, inside-out, through your legs, behind the back. For shooting (2 minutes) do some one-hand flip shots, then get your left hand on the ball, move back, don’t go to a new spot till you’ve swished three in a row. Baseline, elbows, add a knockdown dribble, lefthand, right. Finally, add three pointers. Believe me it’ll be your day and in 4 minutes (2+2) you’ll get better.


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80 Shot Drill

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on March 3, 2016

At all our NTL Weekend Camps, in our Boston NTL Videotaped Shooting Clinic, and, every week at our NTL Intermediate Skills & Scrimmage Clinic in Jamaica Plain (Boston), we do the 80 Shot Drill. I always reference Bill Musselman, head coach of the then new-to-the-NBA expansion Minnesota Timberwolves, as the person I stole the drill from. (Musselman is the basketball mind that is most often cited as the greatest influence on Tom Thibodeau, one-time Musselman assistant and later – and, who knows, future? – NBA Coach of the Year.)

Here’s his son, Eric, former NBA head coach himself (Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings) and now coach for the Nevada Runnin’ Rebels, talking about the value of the drill.

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50 Little (Big) Tips (8th in a 10 Part Series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on December 23, 2015

1. When making a move to score in the post, a move which began with your back to the basket, make a conscious effort to locate the rim before shooting the ball. I once heard the late, great (best coach I ever knew) Rick Majerus say “there is a direct correlation between the amount of time spent looking at the rim and the chance of making the shot”.

2. If a teammate is cutting toward you with a defender trailing and the teammate is open for the shot pass the ball to the inside shoulder (meaning the shoulder closest to the hoop). If the teammate is not going to be open for the shot pass to the outside shoulder (meaning, ready for this?, the shoulder farthest from the hoop). At a clinic long ago, I heard the out-of-the-box basketball thinker, Rick Pitino say, “the passer is the eyes of the shooter”. I thought that was clever.

3. This is pretty simple and pretty obvious but it is surprising to me how many times I see this played wrongly and I think of what I once heard Bobby Knight (this was before he became the more mature “Bob” Knight) say: “when feeding the post, pass the ball to the side away from the defense”.

4. Before getting out on the court and playing and even before stretching, do a Dynamic Warmup (which we start each practice at our NTL Weekend Camps doing) to engage and ready the various body parts and movements you’ll be using and performing: running, cutting (changing direction), jumping, arm strength and lift and movement, fast twitch stuff, etc. (I got an idea! Practice falling down!)

5. Pass the ball early to a cutter, pass it as soon as they emerge from the screen. The ball takes time to travel through the air from point A (you) to point B (cutter). If you wait, then the defense has time to recover, your teammate will be flatfooted and the whole thing is botched!

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“99 FTs in a Row and Then Bank No. 100.”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on June 12, 2015

Since January 2015, in Boston following the NTL Weekly Practice Programs on Sunday mornings and Monday nights, players who have signed up for the FT Project come in, pay 5 bucks and shoot 100 free throws, shoot 10 at a time (alternating with a partner) till they have taken 100. Previous to reading the article about Larry Bird versus Stephen Curry (“Nobody, not even Steph Curry shoots like Larry Bird”) our goal was to just improve; over the course of a few months, improve. Now we have a new goal: make 99 free throws in a row and bank in number 100. 5 times this summer. This is so beautiful. Who is in?

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A Perfect Sunday of Basketball in Boston

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 19, 2015

Starts off with Beautiful Basics, a clinic for new-to-the-game players and others who just like working on fundamentals, 9am in super trendy Somerville. Followed closely at 10:30am by a robust Intermediate Skills & Scrimmage Clinic in which players run drills like in a college practice and end with a full court game to put it all together.

Noontime brings players in for the Free Throw Project: 100 free throws twice a week (Monday nights, too). Got to improve on our league free throw percentages!

At 3:45pm we swing over to Fidelity House, Arlington Ctr, the gym where Pat Connaughton put together ll the great pieces to his game. Two one hour Parent/Kid Clinics: first for kids ages 7-11 (though my 2 and 6 year olds are allowed to sneak in) and at 4:45pm, ages 12 and up! Play the game the best way, the fun way!

Next, like dessert after a great meal we go home and watch (on tape) the Celtics edge LeBron and the Cavs at the buzzer in a Game One, Round One upset! (posted 17 minutes before tipoff)

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50 Little (Big) Tips (4th in a 10 part series)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on April 17, 2015

1. Want the ball? Show your hands; give the passer a target. A pitcher throwing to a catcher without a catcher giving a target would have a much harder time putting the ball where it should go. Same with receiving a basketball. I worked out Howard Eisley (12 year NBA pro) for a couple of summers and on the first day I told him, “show your hands”; he did it every time for the hours and hours we spent together plus every time I saw him playing on tv. Good enough for for an NBA 12 year pro? Good enough for you.

2. Take a hard last dribble, or at least a firmer dribble when finishing a layup or going up for a jumper. It allows you to feel the ball more solidly coming into your hands and helps establish the rhythm for the shot.

3. Backdoor cuts: don’t wait for the defender to overplay you or wait for the defender to get way out of position; just recognize when the defender’s momentum is taking that player away from the basket and then you plant your foot and go! As soon as their momentum goes out, you go in. Two points plus the foul!

4. Ever start to set a down screen from the wing and find yourself walking into your own defender? Frustrating at first because it feels like they are getting physical with you and not letting you go where you want to go. In fact, you should take a moment and shake your defender’s hand because they are giving you two points! Any time the defender is not between you and the ball, means you can get between them and the ball for an easy catch. Walking down from the wing and walking into the defender means you should take them almost to where you want to screen and then step over with your inside foot, sealing them on your back, arm bars up for the catch and score!

5. If you find yourself ahead of the all the defense and a defender is jogging slightly trailing you and they are looking at you rather than the ball, fake as if the ball is coming on a “home run pass” to you. They react with panic. The ball isn’t coming but it helps make the defender feel stupid; always a good thing.

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Michigan State’s Pressure Release Play (with video)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 20, 2013

For some beautiful reason, a reason that makes me feel good about the basketball public out there, this has been one of our most popular posts. One point I did not mention in the first incarnation is that Tom Thibodeau, head coach of the Chicago Bulls and an assistant coach together with me at Harvard in the late 1980s, put this play in for us after getting pressured out of our offense in a tournament in San Francisco.

Here is the the video, a shining example of how to diffuse pressure: Michigan State goes high post backdoor.

The original blog post:

Michigan State Pressure Release PlayIn a recent NTL Boston Advanced Clinic, we set-up a high 1-4 offense to introduce players to the “UCLA cut”. The point guard passes the ball to the wing and then cuts off a high post screen to the block. That cut is the UCLA cut. We talked about the issue of getting the ball to the wing if the defender was overplaying there. What to do? What to do? Here’s what we said:

“Bounce pass it to the high post and on the catch, the wing goes backdoor to get a bounce pass for the score. This ‘pressure release’ play is a play that has been around a long time and it’s one that teams like to use coming out of a time-out, if the other team has been overplaying or are all jacked up, for some reason. You make them pay for taking away your pass to the wing.”

So, there I was last night, watching the Michigan State/Carolina game in the 2nd round of The Tournament. Carolina, of course, is pressuring Drew Neitzel and all the other Spartans everywhere and, then, time-out with about 2:30 left in the first half. Feeling somewhat drugged from the previous six hours of watching hoops, I open one eye to see MSU go 1-4, bounce pass to the high post, bounce pass to the cutting wing backdoor for the score. I wanted to email and phone everyone in the clinic and say, “did you see that? Did you see that? That’s how it works!” Instead, I high-fived my wife, low-pawed the dog, got back into the game. State ran the same play at least three more times, all with varying degrees of success (and with an eventual new wrinkle or two). That play brought to mind the Michigan State/Princeton match-up in the first round of the NCAA’s in 1998 when Michigan State turned the table on The Tigers, and in the process totally demoralized them, beat them at their own game, by scoring off that same high post pressure release play backdoor for the last play of the half.

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A Bus Ride to Mecca

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on November 12, 2013

How many buses will we need? 30? 40? Who is with me? We are going to Terre Haute to stand before, to pay homage to, to relive that year, to youtube that journey – let us pause to wipe the bottoms of our sneakers, you are wearing sneakers, aren’t you? – the 17 foot (why only 17 feet?) statue of Larry Bird at Indiana State University unveiled the day, November 9, 2013, that the new Celtics, the sons of Brad Stevens, took down the Heat.

Read the article and tell me that you 100% agree with Bill Walton (and had you not read his quote that you would have said the same thing): “It’s a great day, not just for Indiana State, not just for the state of Indiana, but for the world.”

Chills. I got the chills.

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Kobe, Greg Oden and me

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on September 9, 2012

I just turned sixty. Might sound old to you or maybe not. I try not to think about it. Instead I just let my delayed adolescence and post-adolescence continue to guide me. What that means is for the most part, I’m feeling pretty young. Except for the hip. Kobe and Oden have their knees, I have my hip.

Ten years ago I could jump into any Never Too Late Basketball clinic and pretty much dominate (if I wanted to and if the right buttons were pushed). Seven years ago, I trained hard for 9-10 months and snapped off a 5:33 mile in the High Street Mile in Newburyport, MA. Ran the Philly Marathon 20 some minutes faster than Paul Ryan ran his marathon. (Though he’ll tell you he beat me by 45 minutes. Guess he’s not good with numbers.) Four years ago, someone asked me if I was limping. Three and half years ago I had an MRI done and heard the term osteoarthritis applied to me for the first time.

The last thousand days have been spent at chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists specializing in hip problems, and a bevy of the best and most innovative and cutting-edge physical therapists and reading and devoting myself to the mind/body theories of John Sarno, MD. Multiply those thousand days by a few hours a day searching on-line for any and all alternatives to hip replacement and you get a picture of what it means to me to get my hip good again. All of which brings me to tomorrow when I will have blood drawn and a serum created from that blood that will then be injected into my hip (by a presumably very long needle) in five sessions over the course of five days at the Regenokine Clinic in Manhattan. The same procedure that Kobe and A-Rod and Fred Couples had done to great success. Those guys went to the site of the origination of the procedure, Dusseldorf, Germany. Greg Oden and a bunch of other pros have been to the NYC clinic which opened a year ago under the direction of Dr Edward Capla, long-time colleague of the “inventor”, Dr Peter Wehling.

You’ll know if this thing works when you see Oden on the court again and me going sub-40:00 next April in the James Joyce Ramble.

Wish the doctors and the long needles and me good luck.

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“‘Cornbread’ Said a Stupid Thing”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on February 28, 2007

Though more interested in the Celtics this season than in recent years, I somehow missed the radio broadcast of the game against the Rockets the other night. (I also spaced on catching Gorman and Heinsohn on the tube.) So, I am only now learning that Cedric Maxwell said a stupid thing; a stupid thing said for which he will offer an on-air apology during tonight’s broadcast of the Celtics/Knicks (little bottom-feeder) Garden party.

I’ve always imagined that Maxwell is a really good guy. Seemingly smart, fun-loving, and appearing not to take himself nor those around him too seriously. And he does a pretty good job as analyst. Great player, too: certainly enjoyed him shutting down Bernard King whatever year that was. My only brush with him was at an airport luggage carousel. (Where else?) I was on a recruiting trip for Harvard hoops; all my bags had Reebok emblazoned on them – they were our sponsors and gave us free stuff. Maxwell, a few years into his retirement, apparently thinking I looked more like a Reebok rep than a college basketball coach, came up to me and asked me if I worked for the sneaker company. I don’t know . . . was he looking for a gym bag? Sneakers? An endorsement deal?

Anyway, his ‘mot faux‘ (pardon my French) puts him only as the latest in a long line of those who said (presumably because they were thinking) stupid things. Stupid things that are typically sexist, racist, homophobic; the sort of thing that, undeniably, helps promote and ensure fear, mistrust, division. (“Aw, c’mon, it was just a joke.”) Let’s see: Howard Cosell, Jimmy the Greek, Steve Lyons, and a couple of local Boston radio doofuses: Dennis and Callahan, and many, many others. In the case of Maxwell, it’s easy to imagine, given his carefree, joking, keep-it-loose style, it’s entirely plausible, obvious, in fact, that he was hoping to make a joke, to be funny, to appeal to those who might think it funny. Hmmmm. Maybe not so funny to girls who are listeners or the mothers and fathers of girls and women who continue to seek equal footing, a fair shake in society. I know that sounds sort of heavy, but put yourself in a girl’s shoes, or of a parent of a girl who wants her to have all the opportunities anyone else has. At one point, maybe not so long ago, “go back to the cottonfields” might have been an attempt at humor, too. That one was never funny either.

But my problem with all this isn’t so much the speakers, my problem is with what is soon conjured by their superiors (or employers) as the salve to heal the wound, the little band-aid on the boo-boo: this idea of “on-air apology”. That’s all well and good, I suppose, if the goal is to save the job or neck of the misspeaker. But the real problem, the real issue is all those listeners, all those for whom the joke WAS funny (and intended). If there is to be real restitution or retribution, some worthwhile and impactful effort needs to be put forth to demonstrate that the speaker and the group that employs the speaker really means what the apology says. Dennis and Callahan should have been put together with the Center for the Study of Sport and Society or a similar organization to hold “on-air” forums to discuss racism, racist language and its effect on us all. Definitely. It was a great opportunity to turn a negative around. Similarly, Mawell and his employer, Entercom Communications, should team with Women’s Sports Foundation. (or somebody) and face squarely the issue of sexism, sexist language and its damaging effects. If the apology means anything, then that message needs to reach deep inside not only the joker himself, but all those for whom the joke was intended.

Besides, Violet Palmer is a really good ref (and I’m crying about calls all the time). Otherwise she would not have been in the league so long. And I believe Cedric Maxwell knows that, too.

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